Uyghurs: UN makes serious accusations against China

Just a few minutes before her four-year term came to an end, UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has presented the long-awaited report on apparent torture and ill-treatment of Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang region. The allegations against China are "credible" and could constitute "crimes against humanity", it says. What action should follow?

Open/close all quotes
Le Soir (BE) /

No sugarcoating in this report

The United Nations has broken its silence at last, Le Soir comments with approval:

“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had remained extremely silent in the face of what appeared to be a major human rights crisis, planned and carried out by a signatory state to numerous international treaties and conventions. ... Many feared that the text would be watered down due to relentless pressure from powerful China. Fortunately this is not the case: the report clearly denounces the serious and diverse abuses committed by the Chinese government. And it points out that they may well constitute 'crimes against humanity'.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Pressure from Beijing will increase

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung is concerned about the timing and circumstances of the publication:

“If the document had remained under lock and key, this would have sent a devastating signal. ... It would have been tantamount to kowtowing to China's regime. Nevertheless, we must be concerned about the High Commission for Human Rights' ability to act. In association with other autocracies, China is constantly expanding its influence within the UN system. The pressure deplored by Bachelet will not decrease, but increase. The democratic world must therefore stand together and defend its values.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Hopes that fewer Uyghurs will be extradited

Der Standard hopes that the criticism will not blow over without consequences:

“The Chinese regime has denied the camp system and digital surveillance for years, so of course it cares little about the report. President Xi Jinping will neither close the camps nor end the surveillance dystopia. Nevertheless, the report could make an impact in countries that are still considering extraditing Uyghurs to China - including many Islamic states which are keen to invoke Muslim solidarity when it serves their power-political interests but remain silent when it comes to the Uyghurs.”

Politiken (DK) /

Even the most arrogant rulers can be toppled

This report must not be the end of the matter, Politiken insists:

“We must demand that the UN continue its work - send in more delegations, hold more hearings and gather more evidence on what according to the report may constitute crimes against humanity. True, for now there is no prospect of an international criminal tribunal to try the Chinese ruler. But who knows what the future may hold: crimes against humanity can catch up with even the most arrogant and powerful rulers. ... The bottom line is that the West must do all it can to help the Uyghurs. Give them asylum. Support their organisations.”

The Times (GB) /

Documentation and economic sanctions needed

It's high time the oppression of the Muslim minority had concrete consequences for China, The Times demands:

“The West needs to go beyond verbal condemnation already voiced by Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and others. China should be taken to the Hague, where, even if the ICC cannot enforce its authority or hold the torturers to account, it can at least document the scale of repression. ... Already there are moves to sanction cotton products made in Xinjiang with forced Uighur labour. Tougher measures can and should be adopted to hurt Chinese exports.”